Retail and Grocery Guide

The following guide is a summary of the local permits and licenses you may need to open a Retail And Grocery business in Baltimore City. This information will save you time by showing you what you’ll need in advance and which City agencies can assist you. Since each business is unique, this information serves only as a guide and is subject to change. If you have any questions, please contact us and we will be glad to help. We also strongly suggest reviewing state requirements that may be applicable by visiting the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development website.

  • 1 Choose a Location
  • 2 Design and Contstruction
  • 3 Licenses and Inspections
  • 4 Open For Business

1) Choose a Location

  • Before purchasing a property or investing in a business, the first step is to verify that the use is allowed under the City Zoning Code. Although a business is operating or has operated in a certain location, does not mean that it has done so with the proper approvals.
  • It is recommended to verify the building’s existing legal use and occupancy by calling the Baltimore Housing – Office of the Zoning Administrator (External Link)at 410-396-4126 before purchasing a property.
  • You may check the location’s zoning district online by searching for parcel designation on the CityView map, then check whether a restaurant use is permitted or conditional in the Zoning Code (by Zoning District in Titles 4-7). If the property is located in a Planned Unit Development (PUD) additional conditions may apply.
  • If you plan on having outdoor seating, also check with the Zoning Administrator to see if it is allowed and what steps might be necessary for approval. You will need a Minor Privilege permit if the seating is within City Right-of-Way (ROW).
  • To change the zoning or use, file an Appeal Application to the Board of Municipal Zoning & Appeals (BMZA) if it is a conditional or nonconforming use at that location.  A nonconforming use is generally any lawfully existing use of a structure or of land that does not conform to the applicable use regulations of the district in which it is located. To find out more about the nonconforming status of a property, contact the Office of the Zoning Administrator.
  • If you are planning to construct a new project it is recommended that you first schedule a pre-development meeting with Department of Planning staff. Using the new online pre-development form, now you can submit your proposed development project and request a pre-development meeting online. After a simple login process, you can organize your contacts and project information all in one location and access it as needed. You will also have critical property information and links to development resources at your disposal prior to your meeting.

Applications & Useful Downloads

Useful Links

Contacts

Baltimore Housing
Office of the Zoning Administrator
417 E Fayette Street, Benton Building, Room 147
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: 410-396-4126
Email: DHCD_Zoning@baltimorecity.gov(Email Link)
Map

  • If your business is located in an Urban Renewal Plan (URP) area, you may need to comply with certain reviews and standards. In some cases the URP may also prohibit a certain business use. To determine if your business is located in an URP area, search the property address on the CityView map and look for the URP designation under the parcel information. If you need assistance, please contact your Community Planner at the Department of Planning for more information. Copies of the URPs are available online. You can find your Community Planner by visiting the Comprehensive Planning Division web page or by calling 410-396-7526 (PLAN).

Useful Links

Contacts

Department of Planning
417 E. Fayette Street, Benton Building, 8th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: 410-396-7526 (PLAN)
Email: plan@baltimorecity.gov
Map

  • The City Zoning Code provides certain requirements for off-street parking for a business use (cf. §10-405.21). Your business may need to provide a certain number of parking spaces on private property in order to conform to the Zoning Code. In some cases, a Variance can be granted by the Board of Municipal Zoning & Appeals (BMZA). Long-term leases for private off-site parking spaces can also be considered in meeting Parking Requirements. It is best to discuss your situation with the Baltimore Housing – Office of the Zoning Administrator at 410-396-4126.
  • In addition to vehicular parking, for every ten (10) off-street parking spaces at your establishment, you must provide at least one (1) bicycle parking space with appropriate equipment, such as a bicycle rack.
  • Valet parking is covered in more detail under “Open for Business – Additional Permits to Consider” section below.

Useful Links

Contacts

Baltimore Housing
Office of the Zoning Administrator
417 E Fayette Street, Benton Building, Room 147
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: 410-396-4126
Email: DHCD_Zoning@baltimorecity.gov
Map

Department of Planning
417 E. Fayette Street, Benton Building, 8th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: 410-396-7526 (PLAN)
Email: plan@baltimorecity.gov
Map

  • The Baltimore Development Corporation’s (BDC)‘s mission is to serve as a catalyst for continued economic growth, job creation, and revitalization in Baltimore City. The BDC can assist you with questions about starting a business in Baltimore City and provide information on City incentives that may apply, or help guide you to other resources
  • Depending on your business location and type of business, you may qualify for certain tax credits and/or other financial incentives, including Enterprise Zone Tax Credits and Facade Improvement Grants. To determine if you qualify for certain tax benefits or other incentives contact the BDC at 410-837-9305 or visit the BDC website for more information.
  • The Enterprise Zone (EZ) tax credit program is one of the most widely available and used tax credit programs in the City and is administered by the BDC. A business is eligible for the program if it makes a capital investment in its property (i.e., constructs or renovates a building, or expands an existing facility) or hires at least one new employee in the Enterprise Zone. A restaurant is an eligible use under the program. Detailed instructions on how to determine if you qualify can be found here.
  • BDC offers Façade Improvement Grants to businesses in certain business districts. The purpose of the grant is to assist business owners as well as creating a more inviting business district. The grant requires a minimum 50% match from the applicant and the maximum grant is $3,000 per front façade. Business owners must apply for the grant prior to beginning work on the façade.
  • The Downtown Partnership of Baltimore also operates a Façade Improvement Program. Downtown Partnership’s Façade Improvement Program is a matching grant initiative aimed at encouraging and assisting property and business owners to restore and improve the appearance of the facades of their buildings.  The program is open to landlords and businesses located in Downtown Baltimore’s West Side Neighborhood.  The grant requires a minimum 50% match from the applicant, and the maximum grant is $20,000 per building. For details, contact the Downtown Partnership at 410-244-1030.

Applications & Useful Downloads

Useful Links

Contacts

Will Beckford
Baltimore Development Corporation
36 S. Charles Street, Suite 1600
Baltimore, MD 21201-3015
Phone: 410-837-9305
Email: info@baltimoredevelopment.com
Map

Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, Inc.
217 North Charles Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21201
Phone: 410-244-1030
Email: info@dpob.org(Email Link)
Map

Baltimore Main Streets uses the Main Street Four Point Approach, a model developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Main Street Center, which has been implemented in over 1,500 communities since 1980 as a success-proven approach to commercial revitalization. The four points are Design, Organization, Promotion and Economic Restructuring. Baltimore Main Streets provides customized support and public resources to ten (10) designated neighborhood business districts:

  • Belair-Edison Main Street
  • Brooklyn Main Street
  • East Monument Street Main Street
  • Federal Hill Main Street
  • Fell’s Point Main Street
  • Hamilton-Lauraville Main Street
  • Highlandtown Main Street
  • Pennsylvania Avenue Main Street
  • Pigtown Main Street
  • Waverly Main Street

For more information, contact Verna Jones-Rodwell, Director, Baltimore Main Streets program.

Useful Links

Contacts

Verna Jones- Rodwell
Director
Baltimore Main Streets
1101 E. 33rd Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
Phone: 443-451-7201
Email: verna.jones-rodwell@baltimorecity.gov
Map

  • Retail Business District License (RBDL) areas are designated commercial areas in which the City collects annual license fees (on a square footage basis) from every business owner. The City disburses 97% of the fees to the local business association, which in turn uses the money for marketing, promotions, special events, and beautification.
  • To determine if your business is located in a RBDL area, search the property address on the CityView map and look for the Retail Business District License area designation under the parcel information.

Applications & Useful Downloads

Useful Links

Contacts

Baltimore Development Corporation
36 S. Charles Street, Suite 1600
Baltimore, MD 21201-3015
Phone: 410-837-9305
Email: info@baltimoredevelopment.com
Map

Finance Department
Bureau of Revenue Collections
Business Licenses and Miscellaneous Taxes
200 Holliday Street, Room 7
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: (410) 361-9690
Email: BaltimoreCityCollections@baltimorecity.gov
Map

  • Special Benefit Districts are citizen-governed authorities created by property owner referendum. Properties within Special Benefit Districts pay an additional special benefits district tax for enhanced safety, sanitation, and other district services.
  • Properties within a special benefit district automatically receive an annual Special Benefit District bill shortly after July 1st. Special Benefit District taxes are due September 30th. The tax bills are administered by the Baltimore City Department of Finance on behalf of the Districts.
  • There are currently four Special Benefits Districts in Baltimore City.  The districts are DowntownWaterfrontMidtown, and Charles Village. Each district annually sets its own tax rate.
  • To determine if your business is located within a Special Benefits District, search the property address on the CityView map and look for the Special Benefits District area designation under the parcel information.

Useful Links

Contacts

Finance Department
Bureau of Revenue Collections
Special Benefits District Billing
200 Holliday Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: (410) 396-3998
Email: BaltimoreCityCollections@baltimorecity.gov
Map

  • If your business is located in a Historic District or a Historic Landmark, you may need to comply with certain architectural reviews and standards. In Baltimore there are two types of Historic Districts – National and Local. A National Register Historic District is a distinction created by the National Park Service. Local Historic District designation is created by the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, and is generally requested by the residents of a community. Historic Districts are overseen by the Baltimore City Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP).
  • To determine if your business is located in a Historic District or a local Landmark, visit the CHAP web page, which provides a City-wide map of the Districts and individual maps of each District. You may also search the property address on the CityView map. Look for the Historic District designation under the parcel information on the left hand side of the screen.
  • The CHAP website also provides information on procedures and guidelines to architectural design and preservation. In certain cases, historic tax incentives may also be applicable.
  • For more information contact CHAP at 410-396-PLAN (7526).

Applications & Useful Downloads

Useful Links

Contacts

Baltimore City Commission
for Historical and Architectural Preservation
417 East Fayette St, 8th floor
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: (410) 396-4866
Phone 2:(410) 396-PLAN (7526)
Email: eric.holcomb@baltimorecity.gov
Map

2) Design and Construction

  • All building permit applications are submitted to Baltimore Housing – One Stop Permit Center. Depending on the type of construction, plans will automatically be routed to the appropriate agencies, including, but not limited to, Health, Fire, Transportation, General Services, Zoning, and Planning, for review and approval.
  • For questions regarding building permits, including what work requires a permit and what must be submitted for review (i.e. professional stamped plans) contact the One Stop Permit Center at 443-984-1809 or via email at DHCD_Permits@baltimorecity.gov.

For restaurants serving 50 or more people a Place of Public Assembly permit is required:

  • Annual Fees are $150.00 (50-249 total occupants)
  • When a Use and Occupancy permit application is filed, the general inspection fee and the hood suppression system fee is included in the annual “Place of Public Assembly” permit fee.
  • This permit is required for all new and existing restaurants.
  • There is no application fee required for a Place of Public Assembly permit.
  • A seating plan may be required in addition to plans required by other agencies.
  • For additional information, please call The Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) 410-396-5752.

Applications & Useful Downloads

Useful Links

Contacts

Baltimore Housing
One Stop Permit Center
417 E Fayette Street,
Benton Building, Room 100
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: 443-984-1809
Email: DHCD_Permits@baltimorecity.gov
Map

Baltimore City Fire Department
Office of Fire Marshal
410 E. Lexington St.
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: 410-396-5752
Email: firemarshal@baltimorecity.gov
Map

  • The Baltimore City Health Department must also review your restaurant layout and plan. If submitting a building permit, your plans will be automatically routed to the Health Department for review. If you are not building a new facility or making major structural changes, it is recommended that you bring an informal layout of your facility to the Health Department, including locations of all equipment, walls, doors, toilets, sinks, etc. The plan review supervisor will review this layout and make suggestions to help ensure a successful final inspection. Final design details must be included in your Food Service Plan, which is required to obtain a Food License (Please see Step 3 – Licenses and Inspections for more information). For questions regarding the Food Service Plan contact the Health Department’s Plan Review Section at 410-396-4544.
  • If you are planning to open two or more prototypical food service facilities, such as a chain or franchise in the State of Maryland from a uniform set of plans, then your plans must be reviewed by the Maryland Center for Retail Food, Plan, and Process Reviews at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Applications & Useful Downloads

Useful Links

Contacts

Baltimore City Health Department
Environmental Inspection Services Program
Plan Review Section
1001 E. Fayette Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: 410-396-4544
Email: food-license@baltimorecity.gov
Map

Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Center for Retail Food, Plan and Process Reviews
6 St. Paul St, Suite 1301
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: 410-767-8400
Map

  • A Use and Occupancy (U&O) permit must be issued before you can operate your business. The U&O is issued after construction has been completed and the proper building inspections, including an inspection by the Fire Marshal, have been completed.
  • If no construction is taking place and the business is only changing ownership, a U&O permit still must be issued under the new ownership’s name. You will not be able to obtain your Food License without a U&O permit in your name.
  • For information on how to obtain a U&O permit contact the Office of the Zoning Administrator at 410-396-4126 or via email at DHCD_Zoning@baltimorecity.gov.

Applications & Useful Downloads

Useful Links

Contacts

Baltimore Housing
Office of the Zoning Administrator
417 E Fayette Street, Benton Building, Room 147
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: 410-396-4126
Email: DHCD_Zoning@baltimorecity.gov
Map

  • In some circumstances you may need to utilize City Right-of-Way (ROW) on a temporary basis for scaffolding, construction dumpsters, excavation or other temporary conditions. In order to use City ROW you must received a Temporary Use of Right of Way permit issued by the Department of General Services.
  • Longer term use of City ROW for situation such as outdoor seating, awnings and/or signage requires a Minor Privilege Permit also issued by the Department of General Services (Please see “Step 4 – Open for Business” for more information on Minor Privilege Permits).

Applications & Useful Downloads

Useful Links

Contacts

Department of General Services
Right of Ways Section
200 Holliday Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
Phone: (410) 396-4650
Email: ROWpermits@baltimorecity.gov
Map

Article 25 of the Baltimore City Code, as amended, regulates sewage disposal. Any discharger of non-residential wastes into the City wastewater system is required to obtain a Wastewater Discharge Permit from the City. The information requested in this application will determine if a permit is necessary and the category designation.

  • Wastewater Discharge Permit Application Form B may be used for restaurants, carry outs, and similar food service facilities. Application must be mailed or faxed because an original signature is required.
  • The Wastewater Discharge Permit is required to be renewed on an annual basis. For any questions or additional information contact the Pollution Control Section at 410-396-9695.

In addition, the Pollution Control Section is part of the Building Permit Application Plans Review process for new construction or renovations involving necessary environmental compliance devices like grease interceptors.

  • Plans are routed by Baltimore Housing – One Stop Permit Center via a City courier. However, “walk-through” plans review may be requested by scheduling an appointment with the Pollution Control Section at 410-396-9695. The office is located in the located at 3001 Druid Park Drive. Reviews are typically completed in about 30 minutes.

Applications & Useful Downloads

Useful Links

Contacts

Department of Public Works
Bureau of Water & Wastewater – Pollution Control Section
Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant
8201 Eastern Blvd
Baltimore, MD 21224
Phone: 410-396-9695
Fax: 410-396-9838
Email: pollutioncontrolsection@baltimorecity.gov
Map

3) License and Inspections

Opening a restaurant requires inspections by three (3) separate City agencies: Baltimore Housing, Office of the Fire Marshal, and the Baltimore City Health Department. Each agency performs its inspections independently. The number of inspections depends upon the scope of the project. Inspections should be scheduled in consultation with each agency.

Building inspections, conducted by Baltimore Housing, generally include reviews of structural, mechanical, electrical and other building systems and infrastructure. Inspections occur at various stages of construction. The Building Inspector is responsible for issuing the Use & Occupancy Permit – the approval needed to occupy your space.

The Office of the Fire Marshal typically inspects a project at various stages of construction, depending on the type of construction and fire suppression system required. The Building Inspector will not issue a final Use & Occupancy Permit until the Fire Marshal has inspected and approved the restaurant space.

Building and Fire inspections are typically not annual inspections, but conducted during and at the end of construction.

In order to operate your restaurant, you must obtain a Food License from the Baltimore City Health Department, which requires one or more Plan Review on-site inspections. Once an applicant submits construction plans to the Baltimore Housing One Stop Permit Center, plans are automatically forwarded to the Health Department for review. Any concerns regarding the plans will be communicated by the Health Department at that time.   At the end of construction, the Health Inspector will complete an on-site inspection(s) to ensure that the space conforms to the plan specifications and Baltimore City Health Code.

When applying for your Food License, the $150 application fee includes plan review and two (2) on-site inspections. If more than two (2) on-site inspections are required, additional fees will be charged.

To maintain an active Food License, annual inspections by the Health Department are required. For a Low Priority Food Facility, one (1) inspection is required every two years at an annual $185 fee. For a Moderate Priority Food Facility, two (2) annual inspections are required at an annual $350 fee. For a High Priority Food Facility, three (3) annual inspections are required at an annual $450 fee. Most restaurants are a Moderate or High Priority Food Facility.

Applications & Useful Downloads

Useful Links

Contacts

Baltimore Housing
One Stop Permit Center
417 E Fayette Street,
Benton Building, Room 100
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: 443-984-1809
Email: DHCD_Permits@baltimorecity.gov
Map

Baltimore City Health Department
Environmental Inspection Services Program
Plan Review Section
1001 E. Fayette Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: 410-396-4544
Email: food-license@baltimorecity.gov
Map

Baltimore City Fire Department
Office of Fire Marshal
410 E. Lexington St.
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: 410-396-5752
Email: firemarshal@baltimorecity.gov
Map

To operate a restaurant (or any type of food establishment) a Food License is required. There are three (3) types of Food License categories – high, moderate, and low priorities. Most restaurants are high or moderate priority establishments. All Licenses must be renewed annually.Below is a checklist of requirements needed to obtain a Food License:

  • Item 1: Completed Food License Application.
  • Item 2: Approval notice from a Health Department environmental sanitarian.
  • Item 3: Approved All Food Service Plan which must include:
    • Menu
    • Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) Plan (only applicable to high and moderate priority food facilities)
    • Food Service Manager’s Certificate (Food Managers must be certified within 90 days of employment; only applicable to high and moderate priority food facilities.)
    • The items listed above as part of the All Food Service Plan are only required for Moderate and High Priority Facilities.
  • Item 4: Original contract with a licensed pest control company.
  • Item 5: Certified copy of the Articles of Incorporation if owner is a corporation. It should have the charter/trade name from the State Department of Assessments and Taxation, located at 301 W. Preston St., Room 809, Baltimore, MD 21201 (Phone: 410-767-1330)
  • Item 6: Workman’s Compensation Insurance information.
  • Item 7: Any person representing the owners when obtaining the food license must bring a notarized Power of Attorney.
  • Item 8: All handwritten documents should be notarized (not including menu and list of food equipment).

Below are the necessary steps needed to obtain a Food License:

  • Step 1: Apply for a Use and Occupancy permit from the Baltimore Housing – One Stop Permit Center, 417 East Fayette Street. Bring the receipt you receive when you submit the application.
  • Step 2: (If building new facility or making structural changes to existing facility): Apply for a building permit and submit construction plans to the Baltimore Housing – Office of Permits and Building Construction as well. These plans will be forwarded to the Health Department for review. The Health Department will alert you to any changes that need to be made to the plan. After approval of plans from all relevant agencies, a building permit will be issued and construction may begin.
  • Step 3: For change or ownership (If not building new facilities or making major structural changes): It is recommended that you bring an informal layout of your facility to the Health Department, including locations of all equipment, walls, doors, toilets, sinks, etc. The plan review staff will review this layout and make suggestions to help ensure a successful final inspection.
  • Step 4: Bring the receipt you received when applying for the Use and Occupancy permit and the $150 Plan Review Fee to Health Department at 1001 E. Fayette Street, Baltimore, MD 21202. At this time you will receive an information packet detailing all the materials you will need to submit to obtain a food permit.
    (Tip: The Plan Review fee includes two on-site inspections. Final inspection shall occur only after construction is completed)
  • Step 5: While awaiting approval of building permit or completion of construction:
         – Begin preparing your menu, recipe and HACCP information according to guidelines in the information packet.
    – Obtain Certified Food Manager Certification for yourself or a staff member (Only for facilities that are classified as High Priority and Moderate Priority. Low Priority facilities do not need a Certified Food Service Manager).
  • Step 6: Once construction is complete, you may schedule an inspection of your facility. If your facility passes inspection, you will receive an Approval Notice from the Health Inspector.
  • Step 7: Bring all of the documents listed previously to the Health Department to obtain your food permit.

When modifying the structure, equipment, layout, menu or food preparation and handling procedures at an existing food establishment:

  • Step 1: Notify the Health Department of any of the above modifications, even minor ones by calling the Plan Review Supervisor at 410-396-4544. The plan review supervisor will let you know if your planned modifications will require a building permit and/or plan review and re-inspection.
  • Step 2: If a building permit is necessary, you may apply and submit plans at the Baltimore Housing – Office of Permits and Building Construction, 417 East Fayette Street.
  • Step 3: If plan review and re-inspection is necessary, you must submit plans prior to the commencement of work or the institution of the change. Bring all plans and the $150 plan review fee to the Health Department 1001 E. Fayette Street.
    (Tip: The Plan Review fee includes two on-site inspections. Final inspection shall occur only after the completion of construction)
  • Step 4: Once the building permit is issued, or the plans are reviewed and approved, modification work may commence.
  • Step 5: After modifications are complete, schedule a final inspection of the modified facility. If the facility passes inspection, you will receive a notice of approval for the changes, and may resume business.

Applications & Useful Downloads

Useful Links

Contacts

Baltimore City Health Department
Environmental Inspection Services Program
Plan Review Section
1001 E. Fayette Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: 410-396-4544
Email: food-license@baltimorecity.gov(Email Link)
Map

  • All restaurants and carry-outs are required to have at least one (1) Certified Food Manager. To obtain Certified Food Manager Certification for yourself or a staff member must complete an application through the Health Department. For more information on Food Manager Certification contact the Health Department’s Food Control Section at 410-396-4424.

Applications & Useful Downloads

Useful Links

Contacts

Baltimore City Health Department
Bureau of Environmental Health
Food Control Section
1001 E. Fayette Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: 410-396-4424
Email: food-service-manager@baltimorecity.gov
Map

  • In order to open a restaurant in Maryland, you will need to obtain a State of Maryland Restaurant Trader’s License and Food Service Facility License.  You can apply for the Restaurant Trader’s license at the Baltimore City Circuit Courthouse. The Baltimore City Health Department issues the  Food Service Facility License on behalf of the State of Maryland for most restaurants.  The exception is in circumstances whereby two or more prototypical food services, such as a chain or franchise, are planned in the State of Maryland from a uniform set of plans.  In that case, the State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reviews the Food Service Plan and issues the Food Facility License.
  • You will also need to obtain a federal tax ID number (also called an Employer Identification Number, or EIN) and register your business entity (trade or corporate name) with the State Department of Assessments & Taxation.
  • New corporations need to file Articles of Incorporation.

You will need to set up various tax and insurance accounts:

  • Sales & Use Tax (State of Maryland Comptroller)
  • Income Tax Withholding (State of Maryland Comptroller)
  • Alcoholic Tax License (State of Maryland Comptroller)
  • Unemployment Insurance (Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation)
  • Workers Compensation Insurance (State Department of Assessments & Taxation)
  • Personal Property Tax (State Department of Assessments & Taxation)
  • Income Tax (IRS)
  • Unemployment Insurance (IRS)
  • Social Security (IRS) and Federal Withholding

For assistance or more information, contact the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development and/or the Department of Assessments and Taxation.

Useful Links

Contacts

Baltimore City Circuit Courthouse
111 N. Calvert Street, Room 628
Baltimore, MD 21208
Phone: 410-333-3790
Map

Comptroller of the Treasury
Business Tax Registration
301 W. Preston Street, Room 206
Baltimore, MD 21201-2384
Phone: 410-767-1313
Map

Comptroller of the Treasury
State License Bureau
301 W. Preston Street, Room 206
Baltimore, MD 21201-2384
Phone: 410-260-6240
Map

Department of Assessments & Taxation, Taxpayer Registration Assistance Center
301 W. Preston Street, Room 206
Baltimore, MD 21201-2384
Phone: 410-260-7980
Map

Department of Business & Economic Development
World Trade Center
401 E. Pratt Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: 410-767-6300
Map

Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation
Division of Occupational Professional Licensing
500 North Calvert Street, 3rd Floor
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: 410-230-6220
Map

4) Open for Business - Additional Permits

The Mayor’s Office of Employment Development (MOED) coordinates workforce development initiatives responsive to the needs of businesses and jobseekers to promote the local economy. MOED’s Business Services division provides no-cost recruitment, training funds and other services to assist businesses with their workforce development.To post job openings and for more information, call 443-984-3014 or email bmore@oedworks.com.

Useful Links

Contacts

Mayor’s Office of Employment Development
Business Services
3001 E. Madison Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21205
Phone: 443-984-3014
Email: bmore@oedworks.com
Map

Overview

  • A Minor Privilege permit is required if the encroachment projects into the City Right of Way (ROW), including the sidewalk.
  • Signage could mean an awning, a canopy, an electrical sign, a non-illuminated sign, or a flat sign attached to the building. A Minor Privilege is not required if the signage is painted on the building.
  • Each type of signage has its own criteria for cost found within the Minor Privilege Schedule of Charges and Regulations.
  • There is no application fee.
  • The Minor Privilege is a lien on the real property where the privilege is located.
  • All projections into the public right of way may require a Minor Privilege permit.
  • The permit is renewed each year without any further action by the applicant by sending an invoice for payment.

Minor Privilege Requirements

  • Minor Privilege requests usually require additional approvals or permits such a building permits, Use & Occupancy (U&O) permits, zoning approvals, Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals (BMZA) approvals, etc.. The applicant should initiate the typical building permit process through Baltimore Housing – One Stop Permit Shop. The applicant should file for these permits or approvals before filing for the Minor Privilege permit. This way the applicant will be informed of any regulations or codes they must follow. The applicant should be notified at that time whether they will need to obtain a Minor Privilege permit. The applicant can also call the Minor Privilege Office at (410) 396-3346 to verify if a permit is required.
  • Once the building permit or U&O permit application is submitted, an applicant can apply for the Minor Privilege permit. The Minor Privilege Office can work concurrently with the building permit process.
  • The applicant will need to meet with the Minor Privilege Office staff for an initial review, which will help to determine if drawings are needed, the allowable area of use, and other items that will allow an applicant to have a complete application.
  • Applicant must notify the adjoining property owners by certified mail. The Minor Privilege Office will verify who is to be notified, and will supply this information to the applicant. The certified return receipts demonstrating notification was made or attempted must be submitted to the Minor Privilege Office at least 2 weeks prior to the Board of Estimates meeting.
  • Once the Minor Privilege referrals (if required) are completed, staff will prepare the documentation needed to place the application on the Board of Estimates agenda.
  • After the Board of Estimates has approved the Minor Privilege application, and all other City agencies have completed their reviews, the applicant is notified and is requested to come back to the Minor Privilege Office to pay for the Minor Privilege Permit and be directed back to Baltimore Housing to obtain any additional permits.
  • The permit will not be issued until all other agencies have completed their reviews. The Minor Privilege Office will work with the applicant to secure any necessary agency sign-offs.
  • The average time frame is 2 to 3 weeks for approval of Minor Privileges for awnings and signage.

Applications & Useful Downloads

Useful Links

Contacts

Department of General Services
Minor Privilege Office
200 Holliday St. Suite 204
Baltimore, Md. 21202
Phone: (410) 396-3346
Email: minorprivilege@baltimorecity.gov
Map

Baltimore Housing
Office of the Zoning Administrator
417 E Fayette Street, Benton Building, Room 147
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: 410-396-4126
Email: DHCD_Zoning@baltimorecity.gov
Map

  • A Minor Privilege permit is required for outdoor seating within the City Right of Way (ROW), including a public sidewalk.
  • The applicant must provide evidence that the Use and Occupancy (U&O) permit incorporates or will incorporate outdoor table service. This evidence may include:
  • a copy of the valid U&O permit incorporating outdoor table service; or
  • a copy of the “Filing Fee” papers from Housing indicating the request to include outdoor table service on your U&O permit.
  • U&O information is provided by the Baltimore Housing – Office of the Zoning Administrator by calling410-396-3237.
  • If modification to the U&O permit is denied by the Zoning Administrator you may be referred to the Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals (BMZA) for further action. When approved by the BMZA, you will be redirected back to the Zoning Administrator to complete the U&O permit process. Once this process is completed, you will be referred to the Minor Privilege Office. Please provide a copy of the BMZA approval with your Minor Privilege application packet.
  • The Minor Privilege permit is an annual charge and a lien on the property. There is a minimum charge is $337.50 for up 80 square feet, and an additional charge of $14.00 per square foot over 80 square feet.
  • The application is forwarded to various City agencies for review and comment, such as Transportation, Health, Fire and Police. After all minor privilege reviews are completed, the application is placed on the next available Board of Estimates agenda. All minor privilege applications must be heard before the Board of Estimates. The average time frame is 6 to 8 weeks.

Outdoor Seating Area Specifications

  • Dining area must be located against the restaurant property such that an unobstructed pedestrian corridor of a minimum of 5 feet in width is maintained parallel to the street at all times. Where existing obstructions are present (such as fire hydrants, meters) the corridor can be measured to go around these obstructions. For tree grates, the corridor is measured from the out edge of the grate, unless an ADA-compliant grate is installed, in which case the 5 feet can be measured directly from the tree truck.
  • A minimum clearance of 5 feet must be maintained between the outdoor dining space and edge of driveways, alleys, and handicap ramps.
  • Additional sidewalk clearance may be required where pedestrian traffic or other circumstances warrant.
  • Clear unobstructed height of 7 feet must be maintained between the sidewalk surface and overhead objects including umbrellas.
  • Dining areas may be defined with approved non-stationary barriers.
  • Lighting must not cause glare to pedestrians or vehicular traffic.
  • Sidewalk Cafes are subject to compliance with all ADA regulations.

Outdoor Seating Check List

  • Meet with the Minor Privilege Staff for an initial review. Please provide one copy of a site plan, and evidence of the U&O Permit pending approval for outdoor seating. This evidence includes a copy of the BMZA approval if required.
  • Submit a completed Minor Privilege Application along with nine (9) additional copies of a site plan.
  • Notify the adjoining property owners and provide evidence of same 2 weeks prior to the Board of Estimates meeting.
  • After Board of Estimates approval you will be notified to come in to pay the appropriate fee and be directed back to the Zoning Administrator to obtain the additional approved U&O Permit for outdoor seating.

Applications & Useful Downloads

Useful Links

Contacts

Department of General Services
Minor Privilege Office
200 Holliday St. Suite 204
Baltimore, Md. 21202
Phone: (410) 396-3346
Email: minorprivilege@baltimorecity.gov
Map

Baltimore Housing
Office of the Zoning Administrator
417 E Fayette Street, Benton Building, Room 147
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: 410-396-4126
Email: DHCD_Zoning@baltimorecity.gov
Map

  • All dumpsters in Baltimore City must be permitted by the Health Department. Typically, the waste removal company providing the dumpster applies for and receives a Waster Hauler License. Please note, if a dumpster is not properly licensed, a fine may be assessed to the property-owner where the dumpster is located.  Licenses must be renewed annual basis.
  • If a dumpster must be located within the City Right-of-Way (i.e. an alley or sidewalk) on a permanent basis (i.e. not for temporary construction use), the business owner must apply for a Minor Privilege Permit through the Department of General Services for a dumpster.

Applications & Useful Downloads

Useful Links

Contacts

Department of General Services
Minor Privilege Office
200 Holliday St. Suite 204
Baltimore, Md. 21202
Phone: (410) 396-3346
Email:minorprivilege@baltimorecity.gov
Map

Baltimore City Health Department
Ecology and Institutional Services Section
1001 E. Fayette Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: 410-396-4428
Email: hauling-permit@baltimorecity.gov
Map

If your place of business has an alarm system, the Baltimore City Code, Police Ordinances Article 19, Subtitle 8, requires an alarm system contractor, monitor and user to register with the City annually. The program is aimed at reducing the number of false alarms to improve public safety. The annual registration fee is $20.00 and the program is managed by Baltimore Housing. For more information visit Baltimore Housing’s Alarm and Property Registration website http://www.baltimorehousing.org/property_registration or call 410-396-3575.

Applications & Useful Downloads

Useful Links

Contacts

Baltimore Housing
Alarm & Property Registration Division
417 E. Fayette Street, Room 100
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: 410-396-3575
Email: alarmregistration@baltimorecity.gov
Map

If your restaurant establishment is in need of a Truck Loading Zone for deliveries, you can request an investigation by a Parking Specialist to determine if installation is possible. Truck Loading Zones are for shared public use and are not for specific use for a particular business establishment. To make a request for the installation of a Truck Loading Zone, submit a request form or contact the Parking Authority of Baltimore City at 443-573-2800, or visit the Parking Authority website.

Applications & Useful Downloads

Useful Links

Contacts

Parking Authority of Baltimore City
200 W. Lombard Street, Suite B
Baltimore, Maryland 21201
Phone: (443) 573-2800
Email: ParkingAuthority@bcparking.com
Map

To request the installation or removal of parking meters, or to request a change in parking meter duration (i.e. from 4 hour periods to 2 hour periods or days/hours of operation), submit a request form or contact the Parking Authority of Baltimore City at 443-573-2800, or visit the Parking Authority website.

Applications & Useful Downloads

Useful Links

Contacts

Parking Authority of Baltimore City
200 W. Lombard Street, Suite B
Baltimore, Maryland 21201
Phone: (443) 573-2800
Email: ParkingAuthority@bcparking.com
Map

Less than 1% of the more than 100 billion plastic bags used each year in America are recycled. By recycling plastic bags or using re-usable bags, Baltimore City can reduce waste and litter, keeping streets and waterways cleaner. To achieve this goal, Bill 08-205, which established the Plastic Bag Reduction Program in Baltimore City, was approved by the Mayor and City Council in 2008.

Stores that require a Food Service License from the Baltimore City Health Department are required to register and maintain records of plastic bag usage. If you do not need a Food Service License, you do not need to register however you must post the appropriate signage at the registers as required by law. For the food dealer with a Baltimore City Health Department Food Service License, you must register online and have an active email account. If you do not have a computer, free internet access is available at your local library branch. For library locations please contact the Enoch Pratt Free Library at 410-396-5430. Free email accounts are available through many different servers including Yahoo.com, Hotmail.com, and Gmail.com.

If you choose not to use plastic bags, and use only paper or re-usable bags, you do not have to register for the program. Please send an email tosustainability@baltimore.gov to notify the Office of Sustainability of your choice.

Applications & Useful Downloads

Useful Links

Contacts

Office of Sustainability
417 E. Fayette Street, Benton Building, 8th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: 410-396-7526 (PLAN)
Email: sustainability@baltimore.gov
Map